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Michael Kuttner


by Michael Kuttner, September 9, 2012


Editor's note: In this aritcle below Michael Kuttner challenges the quality of  an interview done by a journalist from Media line  of Palestinain Munib Rashid al-Masri which appeared recently in the Jerusalem Post at The interviewer failed to ask any serious qurestions of  Al-Masri, who is considered to be the "Godfather" of the PA.  Al-Masri is a member of the  Palestine Legislative Council and former Jordanian Cabinet Minister. When he was a Jordanian  cabinet minister he helped Yasser Arafat and his Fatah commanders escape Jordan during the Black September period.  Al Masri was born in Nablus, graduated from the University of Texas in the United States and was involved in establishing the al-Quds University. According to wikipedia, "Masri's wealth is rooted in the oil and gas business, but much of his investments fall under the Edgo Group, his holding company based in London which operates in contracting, industrial development, trading, distribution and representation, project development, operation and maintenance. Al-Masri is also the head of the Padico investment holding group, which controls 35 companies that include  telecommunications (such as the Jawal mobile operator), construction, tourism (the Intercontinental Hotel Group), energy, environment, banking, finance and agriculture."]


The role of an interviewer should be to probe, ask searching questions and above all to challenge the interviewee when he/she makes statements which are patently outrageous and more in the realm of fiction than fact.

In a recent interview with Munib Al Masri, Media Line’s Felice Friedson failed on all counts to pass any of these critical criteria. Coming across as a sycophantic publicity agent for the Palestinian Arab Authority her encounter with Mr. Al Masri read more like a press release from Ramallah than a determined effort to shine a spotlight on fables & fiction masquerading as facts. As Al Masri trotted out the usual well worn accusations & assertions, the Media Line interviewer instead of pressing him for real facts, remained mute and glided instead onto the next leading question phrased in such a way as to elicit another round of revisionist responses.
Here are some examples:
Media Line waxes lyrical about Al Masri’s palatial home. He explains how difficult it was to build because of the terrible Israeli checkpoints and “occupation”. Missing from this ode to ostentatious wealth was any question relating to the dire living conditions of fellow Palestinian Arabs dwelling in self imposed squalor in UNRWA administered refugee camps. How much of his wealth was used to assist these life long refugees to relocate to permanent housing instead of being kept as political tools against Israel? If the so called “occupation” was so evil how come he had actually been allowed to build such a palace?
Al Masri blames Israel & PM Netanyahu for the stalemate in negotiations. He repeats claims that UN Resolution 242 demands that Israel go back to the 1967 “borders”, that East Jerusalem be made the Capital of a Palestinian Arab State, Arab refugees returned and Gaza connected to what he calls the West Bank. Media Line ignored all this disinformation. Absent were any challenges to these distortions of history. There were no borders in 1967, only armistice lines. UN Resolution 242 does not demand a return to the 1967 lines does not divide Jerusalem and in fact omits any reference to the creation of a Palestinian State on land designated originally as part of a Jewish State (San Remo agreement). You would never learn any of this because Media Line meekly swallowed Al Masri’s false version of history.
Al Masri repeats the long discredited claim that everybody, Israelis & Palestinian Arabs, especially Mr. Abbas, want a “peace of the brave”. It is only Netanyahu and his Government he claims, which do not want it. The Media Line interviewer remained mute in the face of this blatant untruth. The least she could have done would have been to point out that Abbas’s concept of the “peace of the brave” was like that of his mentor, the late unlamented Arafat that is the complete disappearance of the Jewish State.
Instead of challenging Al Masri when he claimed that the Palestinian Arabs have made major gestures for peace, Media Line ignores it and does not probe further.
Pie in the sky statements about the Arab “spring” also elicited no challenges from Media Line.
The amazing statement by Al Masri that Fatah and Hamas are part of the democratic fabric of Palestinian Arab society and can be compared to Israel’s multi party democracy, called for further searching questions. None were forthcoming. Media Line did not press Al Masri about the Fatah & Hamas Charters which call for the elimination of the Zionist entity.

These and many more examples are a classic case of how Palestinian Arab spokespersons and apologists are allowed to burble fables, myths and downright untruths, unhindered by certain sections of the Israeli media which fails in its most elementary task – to challenge distortions and revisionist rewriting of facts.  

Note: I contacted Media Line for comment regarding my criticism's of their interview of Al Masri but they declined to respond.         

Michael kuttner is a Jerusalem based public relations professional and the Israel representative of Kiwis (Australians) for Honest Reporting.

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